BULLETIN BOARD;ONLINE WORLDS VIRTUALLY MIRRORING REALITY; AOL GOES LIVE IN GERMANY;PRODIGY TO BUILD INTERNET MALL;YAHOO KEEPS GROWING AND GROWING;

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Both CompuServe and Microsoft Network unveil this month virtual chat services within their online communities featuring "avatars" or virtual characters that members can customize and inhabit for interactive use. CompuServe uses this technology in WorldsAway, where it debuts Dec. 12 a virtual Christmas cabin. MSN introduced its V-Chat technology last week to members and marketers, who can use it to create both brand and personal avatars.

AOL and Hamburg-based Bertelsmann AG introduced AOL in Germany last week. Full Internet access will be bundled in monthly subscription prices, the equivalent of U.S. $7 per month for two free hours, with additional hours at $4.25. AOL members in Germany and in the U.S. will have access to one another's services, as will AOL members in France and the U.K. The German service will likely promote itself with a local agency in Europe, said an AOL spokeswoman. TBWA Chiat/Day handles America Online in the U.S.

Prodigy has signed a deal with BroadVision, Los Altos, Calif., to launch the Internet Virtual Mall for its members in the first quarter of 1996 and for the Web community later that year. Participating retailers include J.C. Penney Co., Lands' End, Hammacher-Schlemmer, Sears and OfficeMax. Retailers will pay between $5,000 and $20,000 to build a site on the Mall.

Yahoo, an Internet guide company, secured another $5 million from strategic investment partners including Softbank Corp., Ziff-Davis Publishing and Sequoia Capital. Separately, Reuters NewMedia acquired a 2.5% equity stake in Yahoo. Reuters also extended through 1999 its agreement with Yahoo to provide the top 10 daily news stories with hourly updates.

Other news:

Time Inc. New Media last week launched a travel area on Pathfinder (http://www.pathfinder.com) called Getting Around the Planet offering features including Zagat's restaurant reviews, frequently updated reports from the Weather Channel and online ticketing through PC Travel....IBM Corp.'s Software Group this month will start a unit to oversee Internet and networking software products whose main goal will be to move software more quickly out of the labs and into the market.

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